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Business Lesson: Control

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After successfully running a restaurant in the outskirts of the city which operated everyday between 6 am and 9 pm, John decided to open a second restaurant in Nairobi West. This Nairobi’s clubbing capital, where the night never comes to an end and restaurants run till early morning, sometimes late morning.

This marked the beginning of his troubles. As a good father, he needed to be home early enough, but the restaurant closed at 1 am, sometimes even at 4 am. He was not able to be present and supervise what was going on. After a short while, he realized that he was not making any money from the venture, despite the buzz of activities going on every day. He decided to investigate and this is what he found out.

The guy in charge of the store was colluding with the suppliers to receive less supplies, but still pay the full price. He would get some kickbacks from the suppliers and they would share the loot. The watchman would steal the branded cutlery, perhaps to stock his kitchen at home. The waiters would print parallel receipts with a higher price than the official price, then pocket the extra money. The guys who ran the butchery and the grill would bring their own meat at night, rather than sell the meat that he had provided.

The landlord, who also owned a pub in the same building, would divert water from the restaurant to the pub at night then reconnect it back in the morning. The water bill was going through the roof. The manager never seemed to know what was wrong with the business.

John came to a conclusion that he was the only one who was not stealing from his business; everyone else was. He closed down the restaurant. Everyone was fired. It was a lose-lose situation. The lesson he took home is that you should never ever engage in a business which you have no full control of.

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